Investigators find ‘inappropriate’ behavior by former assistant Interior secretary

McClatchy Washington BureauJune 4, 2014 

Former Assistant Interior Secretary Anthony Babauata acted “unprofessionally” and engaged in some “inappropriate” behavior, Interior Department investigators conclude in a newly released report.

In a 32-page report, the Interior Department’s Office of Inspector General detail the myriad allegations and findings concerning Babauta, who formerly oversaw the Interior Department’s Insular Affairs operations. A native of Guam, Babauta resigned from the Obama administration post in early 2013, amidst the department’s investigation.

“Interviews with current and former (Office of Insular Affairs) employees support that Babauta made inappropriate comments to employees and conducted himself unprofessionally at times,” investigators stated.

One female employee, for instance, told investigators that “Babauta once sat in a chair that she just vacated and exclaimed: ‘Man your butt is hot!’ She later clarified that he actually said ‘ass.’”

Babuata “denied that he ever acted inappropriately toward any of the females in the office,” the report notes. He further told investigators that he was “only referring to the temperature of the seat in a joking way.”

At one point, investigators said, Babauta had an Interior Department employee drive over to his ex-girlfriend’s Capitol Hill office to drop off some of her personal belongings. At another point, he asked one of his subordinates to prepare a PowerPoint demonstration for his daughter to use in school.

Babauta later apologized to the subordinate who prepared the PowerPoint, investigators noted.

Against the advice of his own experts, investigators said, Babauta directed two grants to his former employer at the University of Guam. The investigators also found Babauta took “certain trips for government business in which he appeared to benefit personally.”

Babauta insisted that he never used government travel for personal gain, according to the report.

In a statement early Wednesday evening, Interior Department spokesperson Jessica Kershaw said “we appreciate the IG’s work and report” and noted that ‘the Department already has taken additional steps to ensure that employees are educated about the procurement process and receive the appropriate workplace training.”

“The Department of the Interior takes seriously the allegations against former Assistant Secretary for Insular Affairs Anthony Babauta, which is why in response to the allegations the Department's senior leadership team took immediate action to place him on administrative leave and referred the matter to the Inspector General for a thorough investigation,” Kershaw added.

The Office of Insular Affairs coordinates federal policy in American Samoa, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and oversees federal assistance provided to the Freely Associated States of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau.

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